Write like A Mother Fucker is what she said.

Once upon a time, I was not writing much. I was not submitting much. I was just kind of going along writing catch as catch can and whatnot.

And then Dear Sugar at the Rumpus said a thing in 2010 that changed everything.

At the time I didn’t know that Sugar was Cheryl Strayed, I didn’t know who Elissa Bassist is.

Go read the original column here.

But the salient thing is this, this happened.

So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.

The whole column is fantastic. But that, here let me recount what happened.

I sat reading that end line over and over, it was like there was a woman sitting slightly behind me, holding me in a strong arm and whispering in my ear.

I remember sitting there, reading it over and over, nodding to myself. Laughing a little bit and then moving along on the internet.

I thought about both Elissa and Sugar (Cheryl) off and on for a few weeks after that.

I thought, shit how do I write?

I wrote a lot, but not as much or as well as I wanted to. I wrote a lot of things that I felt but not deeply. I wrote what I wanted to believe would get me published  I sat and seethed with yes, a lot of jealousy and stink face.

And then it happened, what happened?

I started writing like a mother fucker.

I started writing like I don’t care.

I started writing the shit I want to read.

The important thing is that I realized that despite my frequent protestations of writing what the fuck I want I don’t always.

No one does. It comes and goes.

Sometimes, no matter our intentions it is of dire importance to have someone you admire (in this case both SugarCheryl and Elissa) to say, work it out.

Write like a mother fucker.

This is a moment like the moment I had when someone told me (as in I read in a book or article) that even though I don’t really get paid to write like it’s my fucking job.

I write, like it is my fucking job.

One of the things I value about having so much access to writers I admire, is learning from them. I have said it here before but, I have to say it again and again.

My invisible mentors. The people who have held my hand. If you’ve read me for more than five minutes we all know that I don’t do that whole clever clever, does this person actually like what they are talking about? Are they being so clever that it’s obfuscated?

That is not how I roll and we know I don’t understand or deal with that well.

So let me say again and again and again.

I write about people I’ve never met. When someone I admire says they know my name or my work, I melt. I flail. I freak the fuck out.

When I read things like Sugar/Cheryl’s response to Elissa’s question, it tears out my heart and licks it.

Sometimes there is a voice. It may be a big voice like Cheryl’s or it might be a tiny voice, that tells you the exact thing you need.

I am forever thankful and indebted to Cheryl and Elissa.

Thank you ladies. I love you.


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